Thursday, March 15
pretty sweet down here. well, it's not too hot, i can tell you that much (philly in the sunshine has been warmer the last few days.) SXSW, our austensible reason for being here (truth be told i was almost as excited about just checking out the city and hanging out with matthew's friends), is as insane as i'd imagined. just look: here's the list of bands playing, today alone (but click on the other days for more), in the "official" conference. here's a seemingly comprehensive list of mostly free, mostly daytime, non-official shows (scroll down to this week, and just keep scrolling.) yeah, it's ridiculous.
i had promised myself that i wouldn't go crazy trying to see everything and everybody, and so far i'm feeling good about that. actually feels pretty great to be able to relax and breathe about it while people all around are milling about and fretting. matthew and i don't have wristbands (much less the allmighty badges), which means we're in the lowliest class of show-goers - i've determined that it's more or less still possible to get into most any show (paying cash, of course, but usually around $10) - you just have to line up way in advance and be serious about it. we cut it too close trying to get into the 4AD showcase (beirut, mountain goats, blonde redhead being the main draws), lining up only 15-20 minutes before doors. even so, it looked likely we'd be able to get in (the line was moving steadily but slowly), but when we were twenty feet from the door, the line of badge-holders (who get access before any of us can even think about it) started to grow and grow, and it was looking like even some of them wouldn't make it. so we wisely gave up, after a good two hours of gradually mounting expectations. i did see and say hi to john darnielle on the street (not sure whether he heard me.)
so, we breathed out and headed for a cafe to chill before somewhat fortuitously making it into a show headlined by peter björn and john (who seem to be playing three or four times a day all week, all over town.) we entered to the lovely and relaxing sounds of tunng, from the uk, who evoked the books (!), kings of convenience, and maybe a blissed-out akron/family animal collective in equal parts. very pretty, kinda ramshackle sit-down folk-plus, including a leftfield bloc party cover that was really quite magical. and then PB+J - who were just brilliant - perfectly tight and precise, rocking out more than you might think, and of course swedishly charming and adorable. peter encouraged us to join the protest against them, "stop peter bjorn and john," and had to ask his bandmates the name of that thing they wanted to put over his mouth (duct tape.) especially nice re-arrangements of "amsterdam," "young folks" and a couple others - jammed out "up against the wall" closer.
anyway. earlier in the day we went to a "party" (as they're called) at mohawk, where we saw peter and the wolf (another of the gazillion wolf bands - this is really getting out of hand - with an intriguing folk style augmented by eight-woman chorus singing affectlessly around a single mike), headlights (perfectly normal indie rock), architecture in helsinki (cute, what else?), and surprise highlight for me so far, a group from nyc called apes and androids - extremely campy glammed out queen-style dancey-dance rock, with, refreshingly, a much higher quotient of silliness than irony. they had huge inflatable dancing amorphous maw-ed alien beings. and they made me dance like mad, though for some reason most of the crowd wasn't that affected. eh, whatever.
better yet, i ran into nan wakefield there - she's recently moved to austin (as i now vaguely recalled), and is determined to get herself a musical education this week, and i daresay will get pretty far. she joined our insta-posse, consisting at this point of matthew's friends and friends-of-friends jenny, nicolette, elizabeth, and courtney. (as you can tell, it's my kind of insta-posse.) that group, in various combinations (some have wristbands and some don't, which makes coordination tricky at times) was the crew for most of the day and i'm assuming most of the rest of the week. which by the way i better get started on.
i'm angling to maybe catch the pipettes this early afternoon (that's pending my "company affiliations" in the rsvp e-mail being up to the fader/levi's snuff), and then chill out at waterloo records (what could be finer?) with sparklehorse, lily allen, busdriver, albert hammond, and of course throngs of amusingly-attired people. if that pipettes thing's a bust, i may be out of luck with them except for the pitchfork party (which i'm sure will be a zoo) - should have probably gone to la zona rosa for them and the rapture last night instead of waiting on that 4AD line. but, you know what? it's really not a big deal, and i don't care.
the one show that i do care about most (i just found out yesterday, and i'm superpsyched) is marit larsen, playing on an all-scandinavian bill at "uncle flirty's loft" friday night. i'm pretty sure there will be very little buzz and very little line for that, and as of now it's my number one priority, so hoo-rah.
i must confess that i dreamed about seeing bands last night - specifically okgo (who aren't even here, i think), the bird and the bee (and talking to greg and inara afterwards about my longtime fandom) and, somebody random (robyn hitchcock?) fronting the decemberists. it was odd. my dad was there. ohkay.